Creating memorable photographs at a festival or cultural event can be, no, is, a challenge. Crowds, lighting, backgrounds, proximity, sponsor ads are among the variables that you have to work with in isolating the subject matter. Now, crowds themselves can be the subject. But even in this instance, there's the challenge of framing the image so that the crowd IS the subject and that the subject has some consistency. This means that there are no obvious distractions within the crowd, such as odd blank spaces, or blotches of bright colors that distract from the overall image. A face that somehow stands out among the crowd can be an anchor for the photo or a total distraction depending. As the photographer, its your job, OK my job in this instance, to have all of the components of the photo work together to convey the sense of being there.
Nearly every year, I attend that Northwest Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center held Memorial Day Weekend. This past weekend was the 45th annual event. And I've usually spent one day focusing on creating photographs (and one or two other days just enjoying the music and dance sans camera). With camera in hand, I tend to be drawn back, year after year, to several specific performances or venues at Folklife that I find particularly interesting from a photographic perspective. Contradancing in Warren's Roadhouse and performance of the Tango by Northwest professionals are two of my favorites. And, for something totally different, I also enjoy listening to, and photographing, a gathering of shapenote signers performing their vocal tradition.
I can home that day with 661 photographs; probably a few more than usual, though its not uncommon to take lots of photographs of dancers in particular to get the right composition and motion/stillness desired. Through five rounds of edits, I finally got down to the five that I felt best represented that day.